Monthly Archives: February 2012

The State of Location Based Marketing

Yesterday’s Explore conference was a great opportunity to ignite my appreciation for smart people doing cool things in digital.  Jason Falls‘ signature event was well attended, well catered and included several social power-houses from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I’m not only a social practitioner, I’m also a fan of good thinking.

Aaron pontificates. Adrian preaches.

Aaron Strout, who literally wrote the book on location based marketing, invited me to speak during his session, The State of Location Based Marketing.

Though I was 1 week into a new job and knee-deep in to-dos, I’m glad I didn’t decline.  We chatted it up about several developments, perspectives and predictions in location technology.

Aaron was kind enough to post a list of resources on WCG’s blog so I highly encourage a click over to that.  Below are some of the high points of our conversation:

Starting a Location Program

When we started the inaugural location marketing program at RadioShack, there wasn’t a big appetite for embracing this unproven tactic.  This created the perfect petri dish for a digital experiment because no one cared if we succeeded or failed, as long as we didn’t lose money.  This low bar made the phenomenal results even more noteworthy.  Through iterative campaigns with foursquare, MyTown, Google Places and Gowalla, we were able to prototype a social/mobile/local campaign (SoMoLo) that yielded positive business results.

The key to starting was just that, starting.  Perhaps the biggest hurdle was ensuring store compliance with the check-in offers and proper tracking of the transactions.  These were executional items solved by education.  Simply starting a test is the best way to exercise a company’s SoMoLo muscles and assessing whether or not you’re ready for the big time.

Pitfalls to Watch

When Aaron asked about potential pitfalls agencies and brands should watch out for when developing a location marketing plan, I immediately thought of two that plague many a social souls:

  1. Crossing SignalsRelatively few mobile users are broadcasting their activities via location based applications.  The overwhelming majority actually access geo-location services on their cell phones to receive information like directions, price comparisons, reviews and other data that enhances a physical activity.  Contrary to popular opinion, not every one is a social butterfly.  Brands must become butlers and serve consumers information on their terms.  The way to add the most value is not by merely broadcasting marketing messages, but by creating content consumers can receive when they’re ready.  Check your signal.
  2. Shortsighted Thinking – Can you imagine if people were texting and Tweeting during the O.J. Simpson trial?  Me either.  Because in 1995 the average cell phone sent a measly .4 text messages per day and Twitter was an unborn idea inside the skull of a NYU college student.  Fast-forward to the present and the average texter sends or receives 41.5 messages per day!  Why should brands care?  Why will I care?  Because as smartphone adoption increases, location based tools will become the norm.  Don’t make the mistake of taking a short-term view of today’s emerging technology.  Instead, test the applications that are right for your business and make your mistakes now.  Think long term.

SoMoLo at Intuit

More than 40% of the nation’s tax filings this year will flow through Intuit software.  The very DNA of our brand is about delighting customers with service, ease and convenience.  As a software company this means we lack one critical component of a location based marketing plan – locations.

Or do we?

Enabling consumers with software and services doesn’t require a physical location, it simply requires a connection.  In my new role, I’m looking forward to cracking the code on how we leverage SoMoLo to enable our clients.  Targeting small business owners, accountants and consumers via a location offer on foursquare or Google Places is highly efficient.  Or how about empowering individuals to find financial help and resources via social and local recommendations?  Better yet, why not offer 1-click access on smartphones for downloading tax incentives and guides that are customized to your specific area?  I have work to do, can’t wait.

Tweet of Wisdom

In closing, Aaron asked me to offer a final, Twitter-sized pearl of wisdom in 140 characters or less.  Let me know what you think:

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Filed under Interactive Marketing, Location Based Marketing, Mobile

4 Things You Should Never Leave To Chance

I’m guessing the start of my 2012 is like yours.  The horizon holds an abundance of opportunity in life, love and career.  Potential is ripe for the taking.  And while it won’t be a year without challenges, the obstacles make victory even sweeter.

Conquering the free world is admirable but this week I was reminded to put first things first.  Being a committed husband, a loving brother and a supportive son are all tasks that take time.  And, interestingly enough, time is also the one resource that tends to be in extremely limited supply while conquering the world.  Only took me 30 years to figure that out – genius.

Whether it’s by design or destiny, there are critical things I believe we shouldn’t leave to chance.  There are responsibilities, duties and even habits that must become an intentional part of daily, weekly and monthly priorities.  For me, these 4 things are:
  1. My relationship with my Creator
  2. My purpose for being created
  3. My responsibility as a husband
  4. My vision for the first 3

First things first

A conversation with my wife convinced me that I should have a vision for each of these priorities.  No different from the strategic visions I’ve authored for brands and clients, a vision for my priorities would provide self-inflected guidelines for deciding how, when and why to spend my time.  I’m thinking it should include the following:
  • Define what we believe and who we serve.
  • What’s important and what’s not.
  • How we budget our time, money and energy.
  • How to argue and how to analyze.
  • Love inputs that yield life outputs.
  • Solidify what true success look like.
  • Thoughts on the legacy, values & traditions we want to create.
Love is too important to leave to chance.  It’s certainly not the sexiest conversation but it’s likely the most vital.  So I’m going to power down the laptop and the cellphone for the next 2 days.  My to-do list will be waiting for me when I finish talking to my wife about the items above.  She’s much too precious and pretty to leave to chance.
Hopefully we’ll walk away with something worth sharing, protecting and celebrating.  A vision.

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Filed under Learnings & Insight, Love & Stuff

Staying Social Fresh

Yesterday was my first time in Tampa and though it was a quick trip, it was a good one.  Jason Keath invited me to speak at Social Fresh, a bi-annual conference specializing in enhancement tools for people in the social industry.

With few internal sources available for best practices, networking and training among traditional companies, Social Fresh fills a void that most in the field can relate to.  I’m grateful for the opportunity.

It’s also a geeky pleasure to connect with your Twitter favorites in real life.  I especially enjoyed chatting with Shauna Causey and Jay Baer while we waited for our video interviews.  Like me, they both have exciting new developments in the works and it’s great to see the glass ceiling for social is no where in sight. Yet.

My topic, “Elevate: Leading & Launching a Social Media Practice” was well-received and I believe any conversation about the business of social media must also include a leadership component.  [Click here to see a blog post summary of my chat].

As promised, here are my slides from the presentation:

Most of all, I enjoyed the dialogue with attendees after my session, several of whom confirmed my sense that we’re all facing similar challenges. Some of the primary questions were:

  1. How do we educate and lead cross-functional teams who don’t see value in interactive marketing?
  2. Are there resources for navigating privacy, IP and other legal issues facing companies?
  3. What’s the best way to lead a team when everything we’re doing has never been done before?
  4. How do I prove the value of social media in my organization so I’m not perceived as simply an add-on but a necessity?

Let’s continue this dialogue over the next several days as we edify one another. If you have recommendations to the questions below please drop me a comment or a link to your blog post.  I certainly learned a few things during my brief time in Tampa and look forward to what’s next for my Social Fresh friends.

Next up – I owe Kate Sawa (@katesawa) a post highlighting how to calculate and use earned media efficiency as a measure of social media ROI.  We’re going to use her success at the American Heart Association as an upcoming case study.  You just wait and see.

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Filed under Leadership, Social Media

Elevate: Launching and Leading A Social Media Practice

On June 7, 2010 the late Steve Jobs took the stage at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco to announce Apple’s latest break through release, the iPhone 4.  The tag line read “This changes everything. Again.”

He wasn’t lying.

I was 6 months into my newly minted role managing social media for RadioShack, their first foray into the space.  This announcement signaled the end of my honeymoon phase and represented the first time in RadioShack’s 90-year history that the iconic retailer would be a launch-day destination for Apple devices. Previously they only received Cupertino’s finest imports after the national release and  after the competition.

That day we sardined into a conference room, throwing out options and brainstorms for how on earth we could tell the masses we would be slanging Apples.  The launch was in 17 days, which meant we had 7 days to convince customers we were actually selling the device and 7 hours to say it first.  Every eye in the room was like a spotlight facing my direction.  Enter social media.

Social Media Takes Center Stage

Seemingly overnight, social media at  RadioShack accelerated from being a nascent, emerging tool for niche conversations to an urgent channel for driving the business. What was previously a thermometer – reacting to consumer and business stimuli – became  a thermostat, setting the pace for how our brand comes to life across 35,000 associates in 27 countries and 6,000 stores.

It was the end of my honeymoon and the beginning of an inevitable journey.  The business no longer needed someone to manage social.  They needed someone to lead it.  My approach was no longer sufficient.  They needed a visionary and a coach more than a community manager.  The business required internal alignment and strategy, not just advocacy.  It was time for me and social media to grow up.

I’m convinced any conversation about social business has one undeniable punchline: social leadership.  When done right, social media marketing evolves into a business practice that builds internal and external relationships across the organization.  It was never intended to be a solo show.  For me, this conversion from circus act to ring leader involved 7 points of individual and organizational elevation.

Social leaders must elevate…

1. From Community Manager to Coach

Community is the currency of social media.  Managing those relationships is vital, but it’s also teachable and transferable.  Recruit the right talent and give them permission to fail.  I know, it’s one of the hardest things to do but also the most critical.  Don’t expect them to say and do things exactly how you would.  Instead, a good coach builds a playbook that agencies, interns and co-workers can follow.  Create a social media  practice that works without you, not because of you.

2. From Evangelist to Educator

My focus is no longer on spreading the gospel of social media.  Ironically, the ever-growing ocean of stats, facts and figures regarding social usage are useless until you educate your business on how to be social.  This requires an elevation in your approach.  Speak to people about data, specific use-cases, financial impact and consumer response.  Most CMOs already know the cost of social so it’s a leader’s job to show the value.

3. From External Advocacy to Internal Alignment

Without an audience there is no brand.  Without alignment there is no business.  Outreach to influencers and brand ambassadors requires dedicated efforts across the organization.  As a social chief, it becomes my job to balance this external focus with my internal function as a liaison, ensuring we deliver on the conversations our advocates are having.  It’s perfectly OK to have multiple leaders own a piece of social strategy.  In fact, it’s a sign of organizational maturity. Just remember: leadership is plural, vision is singular.  Elevate and be the visionary.

4. From Test & Learn to Prove & Do

Innovation is important but it’s not everything (I can’t believe I just typed that).  Once you test a platform and evaluate its merits, it’s time to take action.  I had to elevate my conversations from mere recaps of engagement metrics (likes, fans, followers, retweets, etc.) to performance measures that are relevant to the business.  Contrary to popular opinion, there is a ROI component to social media and it’s the leader’s responsibility to represent this internally.  Here are the 4 measures I have found most valuable:

1. Competitive Share of Voice – How much of the online conversation did we impact/influence versus our competitive set? Measured via Radian6, Alterian or whatever your listening tool of choice is.

2. Media Efficiency – How much money did we save by using social channels and tactics versus conventional media?  Measured by calculating a CPM for the total audience and comparing directly to paid media rates (or industry benchmarks if you’re in PR).

3. Revenue Attribution – How many sales transactions resulted from this campaign? Measured by injecting a direct response component (unique code, digital tracking, etc.) into the social experience that connects potential customers to actual transactions.

4. Online Profit – How much profit (return on ad spend) did this interactive campaign drive.  If your business has an e-commerce function this is simply measured using the same approach as other digital drivers.

5. From Brand Program to Business Practice

As it matures, social becomes much bigger than a marketing channel.  Leading a practice requires oversight of enterprise-wide needs that fall well beyond the job description of a community manager or individual contributor.  This includes budgeting for operational support and social advertising, constantly reviewing agency rosters to assess scope and competency, evolving and championing staffing plans and procuring proven talent for specialized needs.  This point of elevation required me to take off the rock star hat and build a stage where everyone can have rock star results.

6. From Mobile as 3rd Screen to 1st Screen

I’ll admit it.  Smartphone penetration in the U.S. is increasing faster than the I.Q. of most marketers.  What was once an extension of our traditional campaigns has become the center of our consumer interactions.  Forty percent of social users are accessing the channels via mobile devices and some, my wife included, have no clue what the desktop version of Facebook even looks like.  I suppose we can thank Mr. Jobs for that as well.

7. From Policies to Protection

This one isn’t much fun.  When I wrote the social media policy for The Shack, it was intended to instill guiding principles and philosophies for navigating the online space.  It was an internal document with an intentional focus – protect our brand from itself.  The most urgent need now is protection from others.  The business of social media is the business of trust.  Without it, disaster ensues.  That trust must be protected by guarding privacy, securing intellectual property, scrutinizing licensing agreements and even counteracting legal claims.  Technology has created immense opportunity, especially for lawyers.  Leaders keep their enemies close and their lawyer on speed-dial.

What’s Next?

Managing communities, growing advocates, testing technology and crafting creative marketing programs are the core of social media and abundantly necessary.  A social leader must be able to manage these critical components while also looking at the bigger, sometimes blurry, picture.  These are the guiding principles I will take with me in my new position leading social, mobile and emerging media at Intuit.  I start next Monday.

I’m looking forward to presenting them today at the Social Fresh conference in Tampa.  As a follow-up, I’m committing to post links and more detailed examples of the tools I used to elevate.  If you find them helpful let me know your thoughts and if you totally disagree, let me know why.

UPDATE: Follow the tag #ElevateSocial for more updates, including my SlideShare presentation and a follow-up blog post, Staying Social Fresh.

AP

Twitter – @adriandparker
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/adriandparker

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Filed under Leadership, Social Media

10 Things I’ll Miss About RadioShack

Stephen had a horrible poker face.  I couldn’t read his mind but as I examined his eyes I was sure of one thing: he was dreaming up something that would make me uncomfortable.

It was October 9, 2009 and I was sitting across from RadioShack’s VP of Marketing at the time.  We swapped philosophies on retail management, leadership styles, life passions and perspectives on why Redbox was destined to kick Blockbuster’s butt from the beginning.

Then the discussion took an interesting twist.  “What do you think about social media?  Would you be interested in figuring it out for us?”

Funny thing is, I don’t recall what I actually said but I do remember what I thought.  Instantly, I remembered launching an online TV network and forum in 2003 for Footaction USA, 2 years before YouTube.  It failed.

I reminisced about Locker Freakz, the online sneakerhead community we built for Foot Locker that was accessed via a secret 3D lenticular code.  Not many people bothered in 2005.

And of course I couldn’t forget the pride and joy of unveiling one of the first MySpace pages at Liz Claiborne for the MEXX brand in 2006!   We all know how that ended.

Aside from my personal use of social networks and some freelance stuff for non-profits, my social media journey was littered with digital skeletons.  For pride’s sake I’d like to think I was a man ahead of my time.  A digital Da Vinci of sorts.  Dreaming up helicopters and solar power before we ever realized the Earth was actually not the center of the universe.  Or not.

Whatever the case, the conversation that day planted a seed worth watering.  Two years later and the RadioShack social practice has blossomed beyond my greatest expectations.  This time around, the team can look back and see thriving programs that raised the bar and built a blueprint for an iconic brand.  The skeletons have become lessons.

Today is my last day at The Shack.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with, learn from, challenge and grow alongside such a talented team.  Staying true to my sappy heritage, here’s my list of the top 10 things I’ll miss at RadioShack.

10. Cupcakes


I seriously gained at least 15 pounds my first year here.  From birthdays to baby showers, we never turn down an opportunity to dine on these delightful little devils.

9. Cycling

Mouthfuls of cupcakes in 2010 led to miles of cycling in 2011.  Our Team RadioShack partnership introduced me to an intriguing sport and a community of people who are dedicated to beating cancer.  (Yes, I’ll take my bike to Plano)

8. Award Hardware

I remain immensely proud of the work this team has delivered in such a short time.  Having the opportunity to accept a Forrester Research Groundswell award on behalf of our social team and agency partners is something not easily forgotten.  The award will stay here where it belongs.

7. Meeting Tweeple

I’ve been all over the U.S. representing the brand and flipping the switch on mental light bulbs as people rediscovered RadioShack.  Our Twitter chats and Facebook promotions were notable, but no replacement for a handshake, a face-to-face discussion, a concert ticket gifted to an unexpected fan or the thrill of hearing thousands of fans scream “RadioShack!” as their favorite cyclist races by.

6. Lawyers

Yep, lawyers.  RadioShack attorneys aren’t just mere legal experts wielding torts and bylaws.  These studs are lawyers by trade and cowboys by birth.  Many have worked here since nineteen-eighty-sumthin’ and they remind me of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones‘ characters from the western film classic Lonesome Dove.  My favorite RadioShack cowboy is Toss Hobbs who penned the all-time best response for employees who insists they have the right to curse out their employer online (immortalized in the pic above).

5. Paulisms

Every office has a Paul.  He’s the guy who has perfected the art of the corporate cliché to the point where it comes way too naturally.  Paul’s finest phraseology includes: “All boats rise.  Top of the trees.  Don’t boil the ocean.  That’s not a big idea.  Circle the wagons.  Peel back the onion.  Low hanging fruit.”  Interestingly enough, we all know what he means.  You will be missed my friend.

4. Videos

The team produced more than 260 videos in 1 year and doubled our YouTube views.  These guys unboxed phones, crashed CES, bonded with geeks, discovered the Abominable Snowman and brought a 90-year-old brand to life.  I should have been an agent.

3. Nerd Power

Once upon a time geeks ruled the world and RadioShack was their playground.  These days they still call the shots and we’re trying to win them back.  In 2011 we made a concerted, deliberate effort to re-engage the DIY community and start a real conversation.  The feedback we received was real, warranted and way overdue.  Ultimately it’s made us a stronger marketing team by enhancing the most critical exercise of all, listening.

2. Friends of The Shack

If good help is hard to find then I struck the goldmine.  Our agencies (BSSP, Mindshare, imc2, Weber Shandwick) are second to none and I was lucky to work with such passionate partners.  The campaigns we produced working with Facebook, foursquare, Twitter, Google and other social allies collectively moved the needle and taught us all a thing or two in the process. [My 5 Favorite RadioShack Social Media Campaigns]

1. Team RadioShack

This one’s predictable but certain.  The RadioShack family is 35,000 members strong and my wife and I are proud of our time together.  Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, RadioShack always represented technology, innovation and community.  It’s great to know those things still remain true and the brand is in capable hands.

See you soon!

Twitter – @adriandparker
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/adriandparker

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Filed under Interactive Marketing, Learnings & Insight, RadioShack

What I Learned About Love

When we opened the hospital room door we didn’t know what to expect.  Would she be crying? Sleeping? Had they moved her to another room? Was this even the right room?

As my wife and I peeked around the door I was slightly in awe and fully in amazement.  My sister Erica was waltzing around the room whispering to this neatly wrapped collection of tiny blankets cradled in her arms.  As she turned to face the open door we spied the most precious sight – Trinity Dawn Bennett.

Trinity is the newest addition to the family and she made her grand appearance on January 26 – just 18 months after her older sister Taylor.  The room was serene.  Erica wasn’t tethered to any machines, the lights were dim and, except for the ambient sound of the TV, all was still.  Taylor’s dad had to make a house run and my parents left a few minutes before our arrival.  My wife and I were the only party crashers.

After a few minutes my wife volunteered me to hold Trinity.  I think she has ulterior motives but that’s another subject for another day.

Seated in a chair, I carefully fashioned my arms into a man-made baby hammock and she transferred Trinity into my care.  I sighed, relieved she landed safely.

She sucked her thumb with her eyes closed. I held her tight, imagining that somehow my warmth and presence would keep her at peace.  I gradually eased into a more comfortable position (baby hammocks are tough on the arms) and began to hum a song.  After a while I looked down and she had fallen asleep.

As I rocked her little life back and forth I began to think about how God feels when he’s holding me. Am I His baby?

Here I am. Helpless.  Clueless.  Needy.  Intensely unaware of my total dependence yet content in my little world. A sleeping baby.

And there He is.  Strong.  Alert.  Caring.  Intently unashamed to be my total benefactor yet concerned in my daily needs. A loving Father.

Trinity doesn’t know me yet but she will.  I love her like my own.  How grateful I am for a God who does the same.

Thanks for the lesson Trinity.

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